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'Glee' Rocky Horror Episode Recap (VIDEO)

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 26th 2010 9:25PM

New Directions perfrom on 'The Rocky Horror Glee Show' on FOX
['Glee' - 'The Rocky Horror Glee Show']

If you're a fan of 'Glee' over a certain age, then you might have gone to a midnight screening or two of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' over the years, flinging toast at the screen and yelling "Group Sex!" during 'The Time Warp.'

But even if you've never seen the movie or the original stage show, you've likely at least heard a few of the songs, so the fact that the kids in New Directions were going to do do their take on the show tonight must have had you more than a little curious. First of all, how were they going to work some of the more risque songs? And who was going to play the "sweet transvestite" Frank-n-Furter? And, of course, how were the 'Glee'-ified versions of these classic songs?

The answers to those questions added up to a surprisingly entertaining and well-rounded episode, one of the best of the young season. It had humor, plot, character development, and somehow managed to address the issue of how a public high school can even remotely get away with putting on such a production. And the numbers weren't bad, either, though it feels like the producers are leaning a bit too heavily on the Auto-Tune right about now.

Two weeks ago, I didn't give the show enough credit for giving fans an episode that was full of plot and character development, probably because I had been beaten over the head so much by one event episode after another. An episode that merely had plot felt uneventful to me.

So, when the episode started with a mock-up of the 'Rocky Horror' opening credits, including Quinn's bright red lips singing 'Science Fiction/Double Feature,' then it went right into Finn and Rachel in full Brad and Janet mode on 'Over at the Frankenstein Place,' I started to think that we were in for another plot-less episode. Then Carl busts in and confronts Will about Emma, setting in motion an episode that actually had a fun story to it.

I've admitted in this space many times that I don't get the appeal of Emma and Will as a couple. I don't root for them to get together, and I'm not sure what we're supposed to think draws them to each other aside from their relentless uptightness. But at least having Carl in the picture makes the story more palatable. He makes a good rival for Will, motivating him to do stupid things like mount a production of 'Rocky Horror' just so he can be near Emma. And, because he's played by the infuriatingly charming John Stamos, Carl is a rival you want to see more of.

To be honest, I was seeing Will for the weasel he was being as he tried to horn in on Carl's turf. So if Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan wanted me to root for Will here, they were out of luck. And the lack of any desire to see Emma and Will together made their very intimate rendition of "Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me" ring a bit hollow, no matter how well done it was. Jayma Mays isn't making me forget the sight of a young Susan Sarandon in her underwear in the movie, losing her virtue to Rocky.

That number, by the way, is a great example of how in the world Murphy and company managed to make this episode even remotely believable. As Emma warned Will, the movie is a bit risque for high school students to be performing. And sexually-charged numbers like 'Touch-a' are especially tough to show students -- even ones played by 25-year-olds -- performing. So they have Emma play Janet for a number, or they have Mercedes volunteer to play Frank-n-Furter in order to avoid a) having a student in drag, and b) giving the role to Kurt by default. There was even an in-joke when Kurt turned down the role, with Santana snarking that doing drag was "so last year" for Kurt.

The issue of appropriateness also allowed the writers to give Sue one of her more reasoned and balanced viewpoints of the entire series. It's tough enough for kids out there, what with the sexting and "blackout in a can" and everything else they're exposed to, so why expose them to it in school, too? It was very mature of Will to not only agree with Sue and pull the plug, but admit he was putting on the show for all the wrong reasons.

Now, many can argue that given some of the sexualized numbers the New Directions crew have performed in public over the last season or so, the inappropriateness ship has sailed a bit. But at least it was addressed. Of course, if we see the gang writhing around the stage at some point later this season, then we'll know that the writers are just full of crap.

Anyway, the changes did lead to a number of problems: Having Mercedes play Frank and sing about a sweet transvestite (did she actually sing that word or was it Auto-Tuned into oblivion?) from "Sensational Transylvania" instead of "Transexual Transylvaina" pretty much killed that song. There were some other minor lyric changes -- "heavy sweating" instead of "heavy petting" in 'Touch-a' -- that reminded me of when I sang a bowdlerized version of 'Greased Lightning' in fourth grade music class ... the substitute words made the song sound silly. And, for some reason, the grand finale of 'The Time Warp' lacked the punch it should have had. Maybe it was because I wasn't yelling "Group Sex!" during it, like I should have been.

More fun stuff:
-- Of course, it was fun seeing 'Rocky Horror' cast members Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf make a brief appearance as the fear-mongering station owners that sent Sue on her mission to report on the 'Rocky Horror' production. Strange how Susan Sarandon wasn't available (heh). It's also strange that the man who wrote all these songs, Richard O'Brien (Riff-Raff himself) didn't show up. Maybe he was too busy counting the money from the 'Glee' residuals.

-- I guess it's refreshing to see football players like Sam and Finn have body image issues, rather than just put that on the Cheerios. But the bigger issue is Sam pushing Finn to be "sexy" as Brad in the underwear scene. Also disturbing was Artie's theory that internet porn has made women as looks-obsessed as men.

-- Favorite Brittany line: "I'm going as a peanut allergy"

-- Mike Chang! We knew he wasn't going to end up being Frank, but the prospect of him being featured in the episode was tantalizing to say the least.

-- Becky is one of my favorite characters on the show: "Now give me a piece of chocolate or I will cut you."

-- Is there really a need to Auto-Tune every damn song? Stamos is a pretty good singer; after the Auto-Tune treatment he got on "Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul," he sounded a half-octave higher than he usually does.

'Glee' airs Tuesdays at 8PM ET on FOX.

(Follow @joelkeller on Twitter.)

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Maybe the biggest news nugget: The producers are planning a special "Rocky Horror Picture Show"-themed episode at an unspecified date. During the panel, cast member Chris Colfer, who plays the flamboyant Kurt Hummel on the show, said he'd like to sing "Time Warp," "Rocky Horror's" signature anthem. It was then that Murphy revealed that he would soon have his chance in a special episode devoted to the cult flick, as the audience cheered wildly. (Apparently, the tidbit was carefully planted: After the panel was over, the teeming throng exited to the original version of "Time Warp").

November 20 2011 at 9:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They learned RHPS the wrong way.
If you go to a performance. You won't be
Worrying about your tighty-whities anymore!

But I bet taking some students to a performance would be even more frowned
On then having them perform the play at
School!!! Bwahaahaahaa!

February 02 2011 at 10:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Listen online (and free) to all of the "Rocky Horror Glee Show" songs:


November 12 2010 at 9:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One big let down:
Having Meat Loaf on your show, but don't let him sing.

Dammit, Ryan Murphy.

October 27 2010 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Couchtime With Jill

It was Santana singing in the beginning. I enjoyed the episode enough, although I was a little lost since I know almost nothing about Rocky Horror. Instead I just asked people at my blog to tell me what they thought - so check it out and weigh in at www.couchtimewithjill.com

October 27 2010 at 3:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As someone who just doesn't "get" Rocky Horror, I actually enjoyed this episode. I was afraid they were going to just remake the show, so it was nice to see some plot and character development. I just wish the show could be more consistent in that respect. Also, I'm with the people who think Santana was signing at the beginning. I also thought it was Quinn at first, but Santana (I don't know the actress' name) does this snarl thing with her upper lip that I thought I saw. But with the auto-tune it's so hard to tell.

October 27 2010 at 11:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually... Having done Rocky over 350 times with 5 different casts/theaters and played every male role except Frank and Rocky as well as a few female ones, It is very common for a woman to play Frank and in fact one of the best franks i ever saw was a "big" girl who rocked the house. While it wasn't a perfect episode, I consider it one of the best tv adaptations/tributes to RHPS that I have ever seen and my Rocky vet friends and family also agree.

October 27 2010 at 9:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought Mercedes was an inspired choice for Frank. She knocked it out of the park. The casting was perfect all around. Good episode.

October 27 2010 at 9:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dave's comment

i agree! but... i guess we are in the minorty. i also thought it was Tina who did 'Science Fiction/Double Feature'.

October 27 2010 at 5:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Small correction, that was Santana's lips at the beginning of the show, clearly a female voice.

Also, I've seen ads for a few HS's that have put on this show. So it's not outside the realm of possibility. :)

October 27 2010 at 8:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Aimee's comment
Joel Keller

I meant to say "Quinn" in the review instead of "Finn." And I still think it was Quinn's lips, because the voice sounds like Dianna Agron's.

October 27 2010 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

1) I have seen a high school production of the Rocky Horror Show, it was fantastic and they didn't cut too much. It happens in schools, it's not too out of the ordinary.

2) I was disappointed with Mercedes' Frank n' Furter. I could imagine Santana in that role, or Puck if he's planning on showing up again sometime soon.

October 27 2010 at 12:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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